…but you may bring in any number of animals to be slaughtered: It’ll be all right for the vast majority of people. One million, one hundred million or a billion animals. It’s all right. As long as the corpses of all those animals will be eaten up by humans it’s no problem.
Now reveal yourself as an antinatalist suggesting it would be ethical to sterilise a billion sentient animals in order to reduce suffering. People will be flabbergasted calling you immoral.
In a similar manner people are prepared to sacrifice own children to life’s imponderabilities and to lingering illness at the end of their lifes, while they are not prepared to consider abstention from procreation.
The other day I offered a short introduction into Karlheinz Deschner’s antinatalism when I was accosted by somebody who said:
‘For the sake of stringency you’d have to endorse mass sterilisation of animals, too, since they are pain causing agents.’
Explaining the point of view of an all-encompassing antinatalism I said that he was definitely right. Some of the people who were disgusted to hear this were just having dinner for the preparation of which body parts of massacred animals had been used.
In his short story AFTER THE PLAGUE T.C. Boyle deals with the literary topic of ‘The last of the race’. As a rule stories on the last of the race will end with a man and a woman meeting thus making sure mankind will continue. Boyle’s plot is rather spicy since his couple among the last of the race won’t match at all. Nonetheless he’s uttering:
‘…and I think you know what I’m talking about… Procreation I mean. If you look at it in a certain way, it’s – well, it’s our duty.”
Will she, who doesn’t like him – and vice versa – give in on behalf of the duty? Not at all:
‘I had my tubes tied fifteen years ago.’
Soon afterwards the male hero is to meet another woman with Boyle keeping us in the dark on the future of humankind.
In A CONVERSATION WITH T.C. BOYLE the author is being asked the following question:
“What is your actual view of the Earth twenty years in the future? How about one hundred years in the future? Do you think that our efforts to “Save the Planet” are actually steps taken in the right direction to reverse the damage we’ve done, or is it truly too late for us?”
“With A Friend of the Earth, I went around the world on my book tours, depressing the hell out of people, while at the same time making them laugh, of course. The only hope I could come up with, and this after a long evening of reading excerpts and taking questions, is a program I’d like to initiate. It’s very simple: if we can all of us on the earth, and no cheating, please, agree to refrain from sex for one hundred years, the problem will be solved.”
No matter how serious Boyle really is about his declaration we should welcome it. Still it is problematic for two reasons: First, the problem is not sex but procreation. The Cathari famously were against procreation but had no problem with sex. Second, once the last man on earth has ceased to exist, the planet won’t be ‘saved’ but continue to be a place in which countless sentient animals suffer unspeakably.
Christian apologist C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in his essay THE WORLD’S LAST NIGHT:
“I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment now reveals to him, were never going to exist. Then he will see the massacres, the faked trials, the deportations, to be all ineffaceably real, an essential part, his part, in the drama that has just ended: while the future Utopia had never been anything but a fantasy.” (The world’s last night and other essays)
What may be upon us at any given moment, according to Lewis, is not only an End but a Judgement after which some souls may enjoy infinite bliss. This, Lewis says, does not hold for the atheistic revolutionary for whom all agonies of the past must be vain without a better future in this world or in another world.
Lewis’s argumentation obviously comes with strings attached: How dare he, along with the ‘conscientious revolutionary’, compensate for the reality and the intensity of bygone agonies by pointing to mankind’s prolonged future? Does the reality or the intensity of the pain experienced long ago by person P depend on whether or not mankind has a future or on the quality of future lives?
Against the background of Lewis’s rumination the following question becomes ever more pressing: By means of which ressources do today’s this-worldly parents justify procreation in the face of an obstructed future?
Food consumption and procreation are two aspects of the human condition that need to be challenged. What would become the vegetarian movement started to scrutinize meat consomption as a behaviour pattern responsible for unspeakable suffering. After hundreds of years of dietary enlightenment those of us who still eat meat will have to tolerate that they are called RUTHLESS: They continue their complicity with animal suffering in spite of their being well aware of the cruel pictures.
The case for our procreative habits is analogous but different inasmuch as anti-procreative enlightenment has just begun. Cruel pictures of suffering humans are all around us. But there is no comparable movement revealing the link between suffering humans and procreation. And, of course, the majority of all people who’ve come into contact with the antinatalist moral theory will just carry on as before. Proving their ruthlessness: Complicity with future human suffering. The majority – but not all. And every single revoked pronatal decision counts.
Four grown ups and one baby around a dinner table. At some point in time they are talking such nasty things as Altzheimer’s and the necessity to take care of one’s ailing parents. Later at night the couple with the baby express their wish to have yet another baby a few years from now.
As a matter of fact they do not grasp the connecting line between today’s babies and tomorrow’s Altzheimer patients. Is there really no insight, not the slightest feeling of guilt or comprehension of the fact that they as parents are acting in such a way that a few decades from now one more person will suffer from diseases of ageing? Actually, this should be a no-brainer.
It looks like a claim might be admitted in Louisiana against a woman named Sofia Vergana on behalf her own deep frozen (fertilised?) eggs. This opens up an odd metaphysics of non-existence. Hitherto courts did hardly ever allow any reasoning from the viewpoint of non-existence: As a rule, a person could not sue her parents because they acted in such a way that the person began to exist, simply because that ‘person’ was not better off before she began to exist.
Deep-frozen eggs are no living human beings (even though some people might dispute this). If it is now possible to sue somebody because he or she failed to act in such a way that a new human being begins to live, then this is a pronatal judgement from the vantage point of non-existence. By the same token it would then be possible for a person who never wanted to exist to sue her parents because ‘they forced existence upon her as a non-exister’.